Ryan has spent most of the last 16 months playing coy with Trump, generally signaling his disapproval without actually doing anything remotely meaningful about it. And Trump has gladly kept Ryan, an icon of the Republican establishment of near Bush-ian proportions, at arm’s length. No pictures exist of the two of them together because each has seemed more than happy to ignore the other’s existence—Ryan, for instance, has a special knack for being at the gym any time Trump says something offensive on television. (To be fair to Ryan, he does love to work out.)
But Ryan seems to be coming around to Trump—maybe. On Thursday, he announced that he and the Republican presidential candidate would appear together in public for the first time on Saturday, the day before the second presidential debate. Of course, he didn’t exactly do a twirl to draw attention to that fact, releasing a statement without Trump’s name in the subject line that didn’t mention their joint appearance until the third paragraph:
So why is Ryan finally coming around? Well, he seems to recognize that Trump represents an opportunity to usher in his Ayn Rand-ian dream state. Here, for instance, is the lede of a Politico story about Ryan’s plan to use budget reconciliation if Trump wins: “If Donald Trump is elected president and Republicans hold onto Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan is bluntly promising to ram a partisan agenda through Capitol Hill next year, with Obamacare repeal and trillion-dollar tax cuts likely at the top of the list. And Democrats would be utterly defenseless to stop them.”
But it’s also possible that Ryan is playing a calculated game and doing just enough—the definition of too little too late—so that he can’t be blamed after the election for Trump’s defeat.